Great piece published by Fresh Toast
In 2005, GW hired a vociferous medical marijuana opponent to help them distinguish their version of THC from medical cannabis. Here’s why that’s a problem.
Let me make clear that I do not have any problems with the “pharmaceuticalization” of cannabis. If the pharmaceutical companies can manipulate the molecules and/or combine cannabinoids with other substances and thereby help sick and dying people, or just make healthy people feel better and make a profit doing it, everyone wins.
However, when a company uses marijuana prohibition and the Drug War to lobby for state violence against sick and dying people to try to monopolize medical access to a plant that has been used medically for millennia, I have to object.
After GW Pharmaceuticals developed “Sativex”, its version of THC, it met with “skepticism” in the U.S. drug war establishment, basically the entire U.S. government, because if it was approved for use in the U.S., that would suggest that “marijuana” might actually have medical use. Heresy!!
So, in 2005, GW hired former deputy drugs czar and vociferous medical marijuana opponent, Dr. Andrea Barthwell, to help GW distinguish its products from medical cannabis.
Hiring a professional prohibitionist to represent GW in the U.S. was a perfect way to sell Sativex to the U.S. pharmaceutical bureaucracy. Instead of proving that the government was killing people by denying them access to a plant, it could proclaim that medical marijuana wasn’t really necessary.
GW’s CEO, Justin Gover, said that Barthwell “understood the tension between concerns about cannabis being used as an herbal material, even for medical purposes, and the potential for the plant to be exploited in a pharmaceutical way.”
And they definitely got what they paid for. Talking about medical marijuana Barthwell, in a speech given in Belleville, Illinois on Feb. 8, 2005 said, “It is not a medicine. You don’t know what’s in it. If there were compelling scientific and medical data supporting marijuana’s medical benefits that would be one thing. But the data is not there.”
Barthwell told PBS’s NewsHour on Oct. 14, 2003: “[T]he constituent part of marijuana, which is useful in the treating of HIV wasting, nausea associated with chemotherapy, and potentially pain, is available to physicians to prescribe in the form of Marinol…
What we’re saying is that 21st century medicine dictates that we pursue the avenues that would allow us to develop the medications that would be useful in these disorders rather than turning our medical care system back to the 19th century where plant products were in fact distributed by snake oil salesmen for the treating of a number of symptoms…
Physicians who are compassionate and practicing scientifically based, evidence based 21st century medicine would much prefer to use Marinol, which is available to them, than suggest that their patients smoke a plant. They would not want to engage in asking a patient to smoke opium to treat pain or to chew deadly Nightshade to stabilize their heart beat.”
Now think about this for a moment. Why would a cancer patient or someone with AIDS, or whatever, use marijuana, and run the very real risk of arrest if their doctors were telling them about Marinol? And if it actually worked??
And how did GW get the idea that this plant really had medical potential? Because it was being used by the very patients who Barthwell’s former employer wanted arrested.
And where did it get its cannabis genetics? “In 1998 GW Pharmaceuticals entered into a contract with HortaPharm B.V., a cannabis research and development corporation based in Amsterdam. The company was founded by two expert horticulturists from California, Robert Connell Clarke and David Paul Watson, and grew and developed specialized strains of cannabis with permission from the Dutch government.”
Ironically, Watson is reputed to be the developer of the “Skunk” strain of cannabis, which is the focus of much hysteria in the UK.